Before kids, hubby and I used to spend a lot of time hiking. After we got our dog, the always energetic vizsla, we spent even more time hiking, even opting for cold, pouring down rain hikes, where we’d all end up soaked and mud-covered, anything to keep ourselves active and wear out the dog. When he was just a hyperactive puppy, all long floppy ears and gangly legs, we used to hike him for so long that at some point he’d just give up, maybe after seven or eight miles, and we’d have to carry him the rest of the way. As he matured, covering three miles to every one mile we hiked, with his need to explore every trail, stream, hillside, and meadow we passed, we kept adding more distance to our outings to end up with the same quiet, tired dog at the end of the day.
After having kids we kept up modified versions of these hikes, but with babies in Bjorns, then backpacks, then jogging strollers, with diaper changes and feedings to factor in, we weren’t able to cover the same amount of ground, and we had to be more selective about the weather we were going to expose our kids to. This past year, with neither child able to hike far, and both refusing to ride in a stroller, the poor dog has hardly been on any long-distance hikes at all. I have to admit, it’s been unfair to him, to set up this expectation that every weekend he’ll be hiked to exhaustion, then suddenly scrap the routine.
Yesterday, I decided to try a hike alone with the two girls and the dog. I feel a little wary of going without hubby, and minding the dog off-leash in a large area full of grazing cows while monitoring the girls as they totter along bumpy, hilly paths, but they’ve both recently had growth spurts, and their long legs gave me hope that maybe they’re finally ready for some real hiking. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the outing. The dog roamed and explored far and wide, encountering several other off-leash dogs to play with, including two other vizslas. The girls basically ran the entire time, their new longer legs handling the uneven terrain like pros. We went full out for an hour, and when Peanut started slowing down, I asked if she needed me to carry her the last stretch back to the car. Without a word she took off running again, quickly catching up to her sister. It was the first hike I’ve taken since having children where I never carried a child or had to push one along.
With bad weather on its way, we might not have ideal conditions for a lot of these outings, but I’m glad to know that when time and weather allow, we’re all equally game for it.